Living to the ripe old age of 90 may depend on your body size – both height and weight – in addition to your level of physical activity, and seems to influence a woman's lifespan more than it does a man's, according to a new study published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, a BMJ journal.
According to CNN, the study found women who lived to 90 were, on average, taller and had put on less weight since the age of 20 as compared to women who were shorter and heavier. No such association was seen for men. However, men reaped more benefit from physical activity than women.
While the study is observational and cannot establish cause, the findings "provide interesting hints that men's and women's health might respond differently to BMI, height and exercise," said epidemiologist David Carslake, a senior research associate at the University of Bristol in the UK, who was not involved in the study. BMI, which stand for body mass index, is a measurement of body fat based on a calculation of height and weight.
In 1986 researchers asked over 7,000 Norwegian men and women between age 55 and 69 about their height, current weight, and weight at age 20. Both genders also told researchers about their current physical activity, which included dog walking, gardening, home improvements, walking or biking to work and sports. The men and women were then sorted into daily activity quotas: less than 30 minutes, 30 to 60 minutes, and 90 minutes or more.
The groups were monitored until they died or reached the age of 90; of the 7807 participants, 433 men and 994 women lived to that age. Issues that could affect longevity, such current or past smoking and level of alcohol use, were also taken into account.
Men and women in the study fared very differently when it came to the impact of body size and exercise.
Image credit: CNN